KNOXVILLE - Four Tennessee players are leaving early to enter the NFL draft, the program announced today.
As expected, quarterback Tyler Bray and receivers Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson are foregoing their senior seasons, while defensive lineman Darrington Sentimore's decision comes as a little more of a surprise.
Bray registered the second best season by a Volunteers' quarterback in terms of yards (3,612) and touchdowns (34) this season, while Hunter caught 73 passes for 1,083 yards and nine touchdowns. Patterson's highlight-reel season included touchdowns running and receiving and on kickoff and punt returns. He broke the school's single-season all-purpose yardage record.
With the graduations of receiver Zach Rogers and tight end Mychal Rivera, the Vols will have to replace a bug chunk of their passing game in 2013.
Sentimore, the former Alabama lineman who signed with Tennessee out of junior college last December, came on toward the end of the season. He finished with 18 tackles, four sacks and five tackles for loss. The departures of defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri and defensive intern Nick Gentry likely played a role in his decision to leave the Vols.
Offensive linemen Ja'Wuan James and Zach Fulton and nose tackle Daniel McCullers elected to return to Tennessee to play their senior seasons for new coach Butch Jones.
More on this story in Thursday's Times Free Press.